Books

Georgette Heyer's romance, historical fiction, and thrillers

April Lady by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer is one of AbeBooks’ top bestselling authors, over the entire history of this company.

We sell huge numbers of this English novelist’s books for two main reasons: 1. Because she is loved by people who love love stories; and 2. Many of her books are out-of-print, so used bookshops are best able to fill the demand from her legion of fans.

Heyer (1902-1974) also wrote detective fiction but her real legacy is historical romance, especially Regency romance. She conducted meticulous research to ensure an accurate portrayal of whatever period she was tackling. Using her own substantial library of reference books, Heyer took great care to provide correct descriptions of clothing, customs and historical events. Even if you do not know Heyer, it's likely you are familiar with her book covers, featuring the dashing hero and beautiful heroine, often poised to embrace.

Heyer’s debut novel The Black Moth was published in 1921, when she was still a teenager. Her first commercial success was These Old Shades - released during Britain’s General Strike of 1926 - which received no promotion of any kind, yet still sold like hotcakes. The success of These Old Shades without any publicity convinced Heyer that she did not need to court reviewers or journalists and she never did.

Heyer’s first foray into the Regency period, 1811-1820, was with Regency Buck in 1935. She is often credited with creating the Regency romance sub-genre, sparking comparisons to Jane Austen's novels, which explored similar themes during the same period, and spawning countless imitators.

The Conqueror, as in William, is one her best known works of historical fiction, published in 1931. A year later her first thriller, Footsteps in the Dark, was published. During the 1930s, she produced a thriller and a romance each year, with the love stories paying her bills. Bear in mind, her mysteries were competing against the likes of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.

Heyer's romance novels sold well during the Great Depression and World War II, offering pure escapism to millions of readers. Her later years were clouded by money and tax troubles. To make ends meet she switched publishers, wrote book reviews and short stories for magazines, and sold the rights to some of her best books for a pittance.

Asking prices for first editions of Heyer’s thrillers, which always had smaller print runs, can reach four figures. The most expensive Heyer book ever sold on AbeBooks was a first edition of Death in the Stocks, which sold for $2,400.

There are a several biographies about Heyer, including Georgette Heyer’s Regency England by Chris Teresa and The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge.

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